The Rialto Cinema


The Rialto Cinema  1916 - 1956



INFORMATION SUPPLIED AND COPIED WITH THE KIND PERMISSION OF MR COLIN SUTTONA purpose built stone building of plain rectangular design with a pitched tile roof. The auditorium contained 450 seats and the proscenium was 18 feet wide, the projection room was above the entrance lobby Building work commences in February 1916 in the middle of the first world war, when labour was in short supply. It was a bold move for its owner Albert Harrison. The building was tastefully decorated and equipped. William F.G.Philips of The Imperial Animated Picture Company of Hustlergate had an interest and his company installed Pathe Imperial No 1 Projectors.


 The Early Days
Albert Harrison opened his new Clayton Picture House in the October of 1916. Films ran from 6.30 to 10.30.The opening programme included.
"Beaulah" 1915 U.S.A Black and White Silent Film. Starring Henry B Walthall, Joyce Moore and Mae Prestell. It appears that the cinema did not advertose in the Bradford papers but confined it publicity to handbills around the village. By 1920 William F G Philips had taken over and after some alterations and refurbishment reopened the Clayton Picture House on22nd November 1920 with a special feature.
"The Melting Pot" 1916 U.S.A Black and White Silent Film. Starring Henry Bergman,Doc Crane and Valentine Grant. A shadow stage adaptationof Israel Zangwill's famous play followed by.
"Manhatten Madness" 1916 U.S.A Black and White Silent Film. Starring Douglas Fairbanks senior and Jewell Carmen. An advertisement proclaimed " The Best Pictures Only. See Them Here In Comfort"
Prices were 5d to1/- for a once nightly show (except Sundays). The cinema was now advertised regularly in the Bradford Argus and Bradford Daily Telegraph.

The Owners and Managers

OWNER Albert Harrison 1916 - 1920 Also controlled The Coronet and Theatre De Luxe in Bridge Street
MANAGER A.N. Ardagh Early twenties Prices 5d to 1/-
By 1925 The Clayton Cinema Company had been formed with Frank Lister as manager. Prices 4d to 9d and these prices were held for over a decade.
In 1932 Roy Firth became the owner and its name was changed to THE RIALTO CINEMA. Firths own sound system was installed, but by 1935, Harrisons sound system was fitted. Will Philips previously of Wilsden Picture House became manager.W.F.G.Philips had been managing director of the Regent Picture Theatre in Manningham Lane from 1914 to 1925. Later owners included Dean and Heggs and Joe Emmotts Dales Cinema's, also controlling the Queens Hall and Thornton Mechanics Picture House. Around 1940 Stanley Lister Proud was chief projectionist. In later years The Rialto was owned by Alfred A Howarth once the assistant projectionist at the Clayton Picture House, The Savoy in Darley St and The Theatre Royal Manningham Lane. He was to buy the Rialto in 1952.

Fire Disaster

The Rialto closed following a fire on the night of Monday 14th September 1953 which had started only minutes after the cinema closed. Smoke was seen coming out of the cinema roof at 10.45 pm by Mr Herbert Brooke who lived next door.  His timely intervention in calling the fire brigade prevented the cinema becoming a total loss. John Howarth  son of the owner said a lot of damage had been done to seating and fittings in the rear stalls. The fire brigade confirmed that between 30 qnd 40 seats had been destroyed and an area of the floor burnt. The cinema was closed for over a month whilst Alfred Howarth took the opportunity to refurbish the hall and install a new wide screen.

Grand Re-opening.

A grand re-opening performance was held on Monday 19th October 1953 at 7pm by The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Alderman Angus Crowther and the Lady Mayoress Miss Annie Crowther.
The Performance
National Anthem
Re-opening ceremony
Musical interlude
Paramount news reel - The eyes and ears of the world.
"Metroscopic" in 3D" Demonstrating 3 dimentional effects on the screen
Forthcoming attractions.
"Singing in the Rain"   1952 U.S.A Technicolor 103 mins.
Starring Gene Kelly, Donald O'Connor and Debbie Reynolds.
The film "metroscopix" required the use of red and green cardboard glasses to be hand held in front of the eyes. A newspaper revue described it as:- So real it comes out of the sreen and touches you.


The cinema finally closed on Saturday 17th March 1956
"Shadow of the Man"  1954 U.K. Black and White.
Starring Paul carpentr, Rona Anderson and Jane Giffiths and
"The Blakes Slept Here" 1953 Uk Technicolour
Starring David King -Wood, Dorothy Gordon and Pete Coke.
Alfred Howarth returned to The Theatre Royal where he became director and secretary, before retiring to the dales.
In June 1956 The Rialto was put up for auction by John H Raby. It was offered as a going concern but the property was withdrawn when the bidding reach only £2000. It has since been used as industrial units.

Programme For October 1953

Rialto Prog 1


rialto prog2

Rialto prog 3


rialto prog 4

rialto prog 5

 Souvenir for the Grand Re-Opening after the fire

October 1953 





rialto 10


rialto 11


rialto info